Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand and Michael Smith report that ESPN and the Big 12 signed a media-rights deal:
In the new deal, which includes three championship games and ESPN+ rights, ESPN will pay a total of around $40M. When this agreement is added to the current media-rights deal that still has six years to run, the conference will average $22M per year, sources said. A formal announcement is expected later today.
As part of the deal, ESPN picked up the rights to three football championship games in ’19, ’21 and ’23 that Fox had declined to buy. The conference had been trying to find a media company to pay in the high teens for those games. It will appear on either ABC or ESPN depending on scheduling.
Every deal ESPN has cut recently has included a significant ESPN+ component, and this one is no different. Hundreds of events from all sports will be offered on ESPN+ under a Big 12 brand. Eight of the 10 schools will provide more than 50 exclusive events per year, including at least one football game, any spring football game and any basketball game that is not on an ESPN linear network. Texas, which has Longhorn Network, and Oklahoma, which has its own local rights deal, will not provide content to ESPN+. However, both schools will be featured on the streaming service when they are an away team and during conference championships outside of football and basketball.
I’ll be honest, I think I’m still in a fog as a result of the National Championship, but I’m not quite sure how this works on in regards to the third tier rights of each institution. The SBJ also notes that Texas and Oklahoma are not participating in this transaction, but they will if they are away teams. That sounds like third tier rights.
And if that’s the case then what happens to the TexasTech.TV development, which has been a huge deal, so maybe that will just be original production? I do know that prior to this, Texas Tech’s third tier rights were owned by Learfield Communications and resulted in about $1 million per year in 2017. The SBJ article notes that Texas Tech will not participate in this transaction until 2020, so maybe that’s when the Learfield contract ends? I’m obviously not real sure, speculating for a good part of this, but that would seemingly make sense. And then there’s the part where ESPN+ will pick up some games, but any other content not picked up, will still be on TexasTech.TV, but at some point there’s got to be enough inventory with TexasTech.TV to make the monthly cost worth the investment.
And this also means that if you don’t have a subscription to ESPN+ or a subscription through a satellite or cable company, you’re probably going to miss a couple of games through the years.